When Leftwing Worlds Collide

There’s an old joke about why groups like PeTA tend to focus more on people wearing furs than people wearing leather – because it’s safer to throw a bucket of red paint on a rich old lady than on an angry biker. Well, apparently PeTA has taken that mockery to heart, even if they’re ignoring the continual mockery of each and every single other thing they do. Last month, in a blatant example of “be careful what you wish for”, PeTA asked the leather community to remove its clothes:

Between the ASGRA gay rodeo and leather weekend, the gay community ensures that D.C. will experience an influx of both chaps and animal rights activists at least twice a year. … “We hope that when people see how easy it is to look sleazy without wearing leather, they’ll be sympathetic,” says Dan Mathews, who is gay and Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “It’s easy to have a look that kills without killing.” A handful of PETA activists braved subfreezing temperatures and arctic-like wind chills to encourage Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) Weekend participants to eschew their animal-based ensembles. To showcase what they view as a viable alternative to clothes made of cowhide, the activists were dressed in “Pleather” jackets, skirts, pants and hats. One activist wore a cow suit and held a sign that read “Fashion Victim: Leather is Dead Skin – Think About It.” “It’s the 21st century,” says Kayla Worden, campaign coordinator for PETA…

It’s the 21st century, and yet they’re still using their old circus sideshow techniques to try to make a point. Actually, it’s arguable whether or not PeTA has ever made a cogent point, or convinced someone to change their minds (as opposed to simply preaching to the choir); but they don’t care, as long as the money keeps rolling in from brain-dead celebrities who want to look like they “care” about “issues”. Still, going after a bunch of guys wearing leather, carrying whips, and whatnot is more courageous than PeTA usually is; but the gay community is not likely to heed their message. First of all, you’re talking about a group of people who are very particular about their clothes (see the wrap-up at the end of the article, below); and second, the gay community and PeTA have a history of conflict, given PeTA’s opposition to all animal testing, including that required to research AIDS medications.

Standing on the sidewalk, the activists prompted some honks from passing cars and handed drivers a pamphlet entitled “PETA’s Shopping Guide to Nonleather Products.” They were quick to point out that they have no beef (ahem) with Leather Weekend’s sexual side – all of the PETA protesters were gay themselves – only what they see as the animal cruelty aspect of it. But at the end of the day, many MAL participants were still unconvinced of the virtues of fake leather.

Is that the latest thing? Only send gay activists to gay events, female activists to female events, black activists to black events, and so forth; all to avoid the dread labels of homophobe, sexist, and raaaaacist?

Leith Chu, Mr. Atlantic Canada Leather 2001, suggests that the imitation-leather industry may be even more harmful to animals than the slaughterhouses. “My problem with fake leather is that it’s processed. It’s usually made from petrochemicals and the end result is that a lot more damage is done to the environment and the animals living in it by the chemicals.” Chu also holds that leather is a byproduct of cows that are already being killed for meat, and so its use is simply in the spirit of maximizing the use of the animal. “No one’s killing cows just for the leather,” he says. “Since leather is a byproduct of meat, and since I’m not vegetarian, it would be very hypocritical of me to not wear leather because I think it’s cruel. In fact, using leather is ensuring that you’re using a hundred percent of the product [the cow].”

Yeah, don’t even bother trying logic on them. Or pointing out hypocrisy. That just doesn’t fly with PeTA. And now, the wrap-up, with a closing quote that I just love:

Still, in the end, the leather community is just that: a leather community, and a major turnaround in attitudes toward natural cowhide doesn’t seem imminent. Patti Brown, manager of the Leather Rack in Dupont Circle, sums up his opinions on animal rights in one sentence. “People have rights, animals have uses.”

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